A gender-critical Swindon teacher was sacked not because of their views but because of how they 'repeatedly humiliated' a student, a tribunal heard. 

Kevin Lister, 60, was dismissed for gross misconduct in September 2022 by New College Swindon following complaints by two students that he had not treated one of his pupils with 'respect and dignity'. 

He had refused to refer to a biologically female student, aged 17, by their preferred male name and he/him pronouns in A-level maths lessons, and had written their 'dead name' on a whiteboard in front of a full class.

Mr Lister has now taken the college to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal, discrimination or victimisation on grounds of religion or belief and that he suffered a detriment and/or dismissal due to exercising rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

But Carole Kitching, who was the college’s principal and chief executive at the time, told the hearing it was the way Mr Lister’s gender-critical beliefs were manifested that led to his dismissal and not the views themselves.

“I think you have made many assertions in many different forums, including the media, in that the reason for your dismissal was that you didn’t want to use the student’s preferred pronouns,” she said.

“Your dismissal was for how you treated the student and how they felt and how you harassed and discriminated against them."

She questioned why Mr Lister did not raise his concerns with using the desired pronouns with the college or her, adding that they could have jointly found a way to address them and also meet the wishes of the student. 

She said: “When two people have protected characteristics you need to find a proportionate way to address that.

“We didn’t know about that until the student raised the complaint. You cannot have a situation where Student A was harassed and humiliated in the classroom.”

Miss Kitching said the complaints were investigated and Mr Lister was suspended as the college felt Student A was at risk because of refusal to use their preferred pronouns.

“I do not think it was about gender critical views but how that is manifested,” she told the hearing.

“At the time we needed to make a judgment whether it was appropriate to suspend you because we felt the student was at risk of harm from the comments you made and you made it clear you would persist.

“It was in everyone’s interests to defuse that situation and to be fair to both the student and the employee. It was a neutral act.

“At that point the advice was unwanted, and the student wanted you to stop."

Mr Lister claimed that being LGBT+ was in itself a safeguarding concern and that Student A was embarking on medical transition.

But this was rejected by Miss Kitching. 

“There was no evidence that was happening.

“You have made that leap because you say that it is the inevitable corralling between someone who wishes to be known by a different name or pronoun.”

“It is a completely different scenario."

He also said that raising a safeguarding concern about a student 'becoming indoctrinated by ISIS ideology' was comparable to doing the same for a student being encouraged by a teacher to take testosterone.

She added: “There was no evidence Student A was being coerced and Student A themselves had asked and we knew subsequently they had the parents’ support in this.

“The college is not encouraging transgenderism – it is supporting students who have a protected characteristic.”